By Christopher Tom, Uyo
The recent survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has placed Akwa Ibom state as second to Imo with the highest number of unemployed people in the country, a claim the state government, has disputed.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong, who countered the outcome of the survey, pointed at the industrialization policy of the administration that has given rise to the establishment of no fewer than 18 firms including the coconut refinery, metering solution, plywood, flour mill, fertilizer plant and various allied businesses.
According to Ememobong, who querried how such statistics was arrived at, the number of employees in the firms and others absorbed into the state civil service, coupled with government supports for the Small Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) could not have placed the state so ridiculously low on the unemployment ladder.
But checks by newsmen revealed that most of these firms have very low carrying capacity in terms of the number of employees.
Besides, Mr. Gabriel Umoh, a Professor of Agricultural and Development Economics at the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), noted that “the private sector has become so disconnected from government to the point where hotels only owned by politicians in government thrive.
“Akwa Ibom has no strong private sector to compliment government’s policies and programmes,” he noted and urged the government to bolster the private sector for more private sector jobs.
In the same vein, Chief Ekpenyong Bassey, a community leader and social affairs analysts, blamed government for not putting effective mechanism in place to check corruption, pointing that “most of these monies stolen from the system are not properly utilized by politicians to create private jobs for the people.”
“In highbrow areas of Uyo, especially Ewet Housing, Osongama and Shelter Afrique, you cannot count a number of palatial and imposing buildings built by politicians.Most of these homes are fallow with only security guards keeping vigil, while their owners live in other mansions elsewhere in Abuja, Lagos and abroad.
“If these monies used in erecting such marvelous structures are invested in businesses especially housing, cottage industries, oil and gas and export and import businesses, the government would only have the burden of creating the right environment for businesses to thrive.” He noted.
Also, successive administrations since the return of democracy in 1999, according to Comrade Saviour Akpan, Executive Director of COMPART Foundation for Equity, Peace and Justice, a Non Governmental Organization (NGO), have not been able to build on the template laid by their predecessors.
“If you check out abandoned projects of the Obong Victor Attah and Godswill Akpabio, you would discover that if such projects like the Ibom Science Park, the Ibom Tropicana and other mega projects were to be completed, a lot of unemployed youths would have been taken off the streets.” Akpan said.